Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Deja Vu All Over Again...

Two years ago, right around this time, I was leaving Portland, Oregon for what ended up being a 25 day, 5,800 mile cross country trek. I was excited because, not only was a traveling cross country, but I was also relocating. I was excited and apprehensive and anxious and, well, you get the picture. I had a stop for the summer in Poyntelle, Pennsylvania, mind you, but I eventually ended up in Florida.

Now, here I am, two years later, and I'm planning another long drive. While I'm not relocating, I am heading back to Poyntelle. I've been hired by the camp that hired me in 2013. I didn't return last year because I wanted (read: needed) to get established here in St. Augustine, although I did go up for a visit. They contacted me a couple months back and asked me if I wanted to return. I'm fortunate that I've worked myself into a position where I could take it, so I shot them a number. They countered with a slightly lower number. 

I forget who blinked first, but we came to an agreement and I signed the contract.

My trip starts in just six days; June 1. If all goes as planned I'll get to visit friends along the way. I'm referring to this as the "Ex Drummer Visitation Tour". I played in two bands while living in California. The last band, Zendogs, broke up in 2005 when drummer Greg Simms decided to move his family east after the death of his father. Greg's settled in Wilmington, NC, and has a spare couch I can use for a couple nights.

From Wilmington, I'll drive north to Newark, Delaware. After moving to California in 1990, I joined the band Dog Beach. See, evidently, every band name is cooler if it has the word "dog" in it. Drummer Ian Greaves, a British transplant to the Golden State, was the first really good rock drummer I ever played with. I've been offered his couch for a night.

From there, it'll be on to Long Island, where I'll stay with friends. I was going to try to slide through Philadelphia and do some shooting with friends, and I suppose that could still happen, but I'll need to see how I can fit it into the schedule. Maybe a day trip on a day off would be a better idea for that. Philly's only about three hours away, so it's supremely doable.

The task at hand now, however, is packing. I've actually decided to pack clothes into a small suitcase and live out of that suitcase here for the next week. That  way I can get everything packed that I need to pack. The camp, while not the most primitive of places (there's electricity and showers and the like), does lack a bit in the creature comforts, so I'll need to bring these things with me. Things like a desk lamp, coffee maker, Hell, even a rug to put on the bare wood floor. Everything needs to be "trucked in".

I suspect it'll be a good summer, with new challenges, but it's something I look forward to. It'll be tough to be away from home for three months but, at the same time, a brutha's gotta' earn a living.

Now, if I can just get my laundry done...

























Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Waxing Philosophical...

I've been doing some introspection lately.

Recently, after a long phone conversation with a dear friend of mine, some things dawn on me about friends; about friends, family, lovers, acquaintances. I think all serve a purpose towards giving us a livable life. After all, a life by yourself would simply suck.

My friend and I agree on one very basic tenet: Everything happens for a reason. Despite appearances, nothing is left to chance. 

Three years ago, I had to walk away from a job which I loved. I couldn't stay and they couldn't keep me. At the time, I had a difficult time making sense of it. What I had no way of knowing, though, was that leaving that job meant that, a year and a half later, I would be able to celebrate my Dad's 80th birthday with him in New York, yet that's exactly what happened. I also had no way of knowing that it would be his last, as he passed away less than a year later.

My friend recently went through a pretty rough time, because of someone else, and if anyone knows that "things happen for a reason", she does. But she's a fighter, and she fought. I've known her almost my entire life and I never knew she had that kind of fight in her. She did, though, and she's the better person because of it. That may have been the "reason" behind her troubles: For her to find out how strong she is.

I try to keep things in perspective now, probably more than ever. 

Family is, without a doubt, the most important thing in my opinion. I hope it's that way for all. I don't have a large family, so it's important not to drift away too far.

Friends? Friends are a lifeblood. I have many friends here in St. Augustine, but the ones I know I could count on in a pinch are those I've known since childhood. That small nucleus of people is vastly important to me. In a way, it defines me. These are people who, in some cases, I've known since I was five years old. These are people who, when the shit hits the fan or tragedy strikes, they're right there. They don't hesitate, and they don't waffle. They act. They step up and help, or they jump in with badly needed moral support, and they do it for no other reason than they consider you a friend.

Lovers? Well, that can certainly be a bumpy road sometimes, can't it? I was married for 27 years, and that marriage was a good thing for 26 of them. At the end, though, the wind had come completely out of the marital mainsail. I'm thankful we're, at least, still able to be cordial. 

Now, 27 years is a long time. It makes me wonder what would be considered "long term". Two years? Five years? When a relationship suddenly and unexpectedly hits the rocks, do you lament the fact that it sank so close to shore? Or do you accept that, as good as it was, it had run its course and served its purpose? Leaving the rusted hulk of a relationship on the rocks can be healthy.

Thinking back on that phone conversation with my friend, I've come to understand some things. She's a ridiculously positive person, especially considering what she's been through in her life. How she's able to do that astounds me sometimes, but she's proven to me that ruminating over something lost rarely produces positive results, and that we can't be happy until we move past it.

The loss of a relationship is only that: the loss of one relationship.

It's been said when one door closes another one opens. I truly believe that. The constraints imposed by something simply, and quickly, disappear when that "something" goes away. I think it's important to know that and to accept it. No one says it's easy and, in fact, it can be damned difficult. 

But, when you throw off your bow and let the current carry the boat away, you really can't be concerned where it ends up, as you have your own course to steer...

Friday, May 1, 2015

Making Preparations: 18454...

Well, it's May 1st, and that was the date I picked to commence preparations for my summer trip.

I'm heading back to a gig I had two years ago, following the epic cross-country drive. I'll be shooting at Camp Poyntelle Lewis Village in Poyntelle, Pennsylvania. The town literally doesn't even have a stop light, and I think it has a total of two stop signs. The camp is a Jewish summer sleep-away camp about an hour south of Binghamton, New York. It was more than a little bit out of my comfort zone two years ago, but I'm far more comfortable with the gig now. I visited last year, and was taken aback by how many people, both staff and campers, asked me if I was going to come back this year.

Well, the answer to that would be a resounding "yes".

The 69 acre lake at Camp Poyntelle. I took this the first morning I was at the camp in 2013...

Before actually arriving in Poyntelle, though, I'm going to take some time driving. I'm going to make a right at some point, off of I-95, and head over to Wilmington, North Carolina. My old drummer lives there, as does another friend. I would love to see both of them.

Next, there may be some stops near the Chesapeake Bay and the Baltimore area. At some point I'll end up on Long Island, where there are more than just a few people I want to see and spend some time with. I'm pretty sure a trip into Manhattan might be on the agenda, too. I'd like to spend a week on the Island if I can swing it.

Then it'll be up to the summer gig on June 21.

But, for now, the fun begins. The next month will be comprised of lists and shopping and packing and shopping for what I didn't have on hand to pack the first time and then more lists to weed out the stuff I never should've packed in the first place.

Should be a good time...

Let's Talk Apps...

From time to time, I'll be talking about cell phone apps as I find good ones. Let's face it, it's almost impossible to get thro...